Touch Your Toes -Sometimes Simple Isn’t that Simple
Remember how easy it was to touch your toes when you were a kid?
It isn’t so easy now, is it?
One of the physical screens I ask clients to perform is the toe touch.
The screen is straightforward and easy for you to test on your own.
Simply stand with your feet together, hands extended palms facing towards you and laying on top of each other, bend down and touch the top of your toes without bending your knees.
Just like the women in the photograph.
Don’t bounce or bend your knees to touch them. If you can’t tell if you’re bending your knees, try the screen in front of a mirror.
The test is a pass or fail. Either you can or you can’t.
If you can touch your toes, well then you can move on to the One Best Golf Exercise.
If you can’t, don’t feel bad.
Many people, both young and old, can’t do this simple screen.
This is an important test, because if you can’t touch your toes, you shouldn’t be doing any heavy exercises like squats or deadlifts.
Don’t worry I have included 4 easy exercises to that will have you touching your toes in no time!
Sitting & Shoes are Our Enemy
People have a hard time touching their toes for two reasons; one is how long we sit each day, and the other is the shoes we wear.
Most of us sit the majority of the day, and the result is that our hip flexors become tight. Sitting also weakens other muscles, such as the glutes.
Shoes harm us by elevating our heels that cause our calf muscles to become shorter and tight.
Other muscles are affected, but I’m not into naming each muscle, you don’t need to know that stuff. What you need to know is how to repair the damage.
Four Simple Exercises
Below are four simple exercise modules (a couple have more than one exercise) that will have you touching your toes in less than two weeks.
So let’s get started.
Grab a Baseline
Grab a ruler between your fingers with it extending out from the fingertips.
Try to touch your toes – same rules as before, no cheating – and let the ruler slide down to the top of your shoe.
Grasp the ruler to hold the measurement and read the distance from your middle finger to the end of the ruler.
This is baseline measurement.
Record it somewhere so you can monitor your progress.
Now on to the exercises!
First, let’s start with the calfs.
For some people, the fix is easy, to touch their toes all that’s necessary is working the calf muscles.
So you know, the video is made for runners and people that have shin splints. When you hear Amanda mention those topics don’t worry about it.
The exercises work for toe touching too.
Amanda uses two rollers, a foam roller, and a hard plastic hand roller.
The hard roller is called ‘The Stick” it’s a handle exercise tool that everyone should use.
I like to use the hard handle roller more than the foam roller. But some people prefer using the foam roller on the floor, so I include both.
When I use the hand roller, I stand and roll it up and down finding the areas where the roller causes pain. Those are the areas, as unpleasant as it is, that you need the most work.
Keep rolling over these “hot” spots.
Don’t be afraid to put a lot of pressure on the roller.
When you work on the Achilles heel area, you can roll over it easier, but you still want some pressure on the roller.
Do these exercises every day. It doesn’t matter if you do them before or after you exercise.
Many people say after, but I have found no difference.
Watch Amanda Edell of Bodybyamandanyc.com show you the best way to roll your calf muscles.
Toe Touch Progressions
Toe touch progressions are straight forward. I think you’ll have an easier time learning the exercise by watching the video than by me explaining it.
For these exercises, you’ll need a block of wood or something similar to raise your toes and heels.
You will also need a towel to roll up and stick between your knees.
The purpose of the towel is to shut off the muscles on the outside of your hips, this way you only use your hip flexors to lower your body.
I want to comment on a couple of other observations in this video.
The beautiful model, her name was not provided, has the perfect back arch. Like her’s, your back should not be completely flat when you touch your toes.
That said, you shouldn’t be overarching your back either.
Notice how her hips extend backwards. Some people can bend to the floor without having to push the hips back.
One would think this is great movement pattern, but it isn’t. There is no stability in that type of movement.
Don’t worry how easily she touches her toes. You most likely won’t be able to, but that is ok, go as far as you can and keep working at it.
The woman speaking mentions touching your toes 3 to 5 times at each position, I would like to see you do each position at least 8 to 10 times.
I’m sure those toe touch progressions weren’t as easy as she made it look.
That exercise will stretch your leg muscles quickly, so again, I would do those every day until you can touch your toes.
Then you can back off and do them a couple of times a week or when you notice you are having issues touching your toes.
Walking Toe Touches
Again, this exercise is as simple as pie.
Nothing much to explain, as it’s easier to see how it’s done than it is to explain.
If I made this video, I would rather see you take a longer stride and be more fluid.
Exaggerate the posterior hip movement, don’t be too worried about the straight back, but be careful not to round you upper back and shoulders.
While in motion, it’s easy to round your shoulders while bending down, but remember this is a leg-stretching exercise.
You should feel the stretch in your hamstrings. If not, you probably are bending your knee or not extending your hips back enough.
The voice over in the video mentions bending at the waist, don’t do that, bend at the hips.
I find it easier to tighten my abs when I bend, this stops the bending at the waist and forces you to extend back and hinge at the hips.
You may also find it difficult to keep your toes elevated as you try walking toe touches. If that is the case, slow down and make sure you plant the heel while keep the toes are up in the air.
Also, extend the hips back and don’t shrug the shoulders forward.
If you can’t touch your toe, go as far as you can and keep working at it.
I’d like to see you do these for at least 30-feet, 15-feet down and 15-feet back.
This exercise is also good for balance and coordination.
Are walking toe touches harder than they seem?
I think so, but it is a great exercise as it improves hip flexion and improves balance at the same time.
Quadruped Rock Backs
You are going to enjoy this video and exercise.
Well, you are going to enjoy watching it, not sure about doing it.
As the video starts, Lauren talks about crunching her abs to bring her pelvis forward. You can see her do this in the video.
Make sure you can do that, it is called posterior tilt. Being able to move and control the position of your pelvis is critical for optimal power transfer from the lower body to the upper body during the golf swing.
Though not strictly an exercise for toe touching, quadruped rock backs work the lumber region and will help you gain mobility in order to touch your toes.
Besides the lumber region, QRBs work the ankles, quadriceps, knees, core, and improve your posture.
For me, since my toes are not very flexible, QRBs are tough to do.
Lauren is going to make these look easy. They’re not. In fact, start with your knees on the ground instead of elevated.
Once you can easily do them in that position, raise your knees off the floor.
QRBs work several joints, help with your posture (anterior & posterior tilt), strengthen your legs and core, helps with ankle and knee mobility and as a bonus strengthens your shoulders.
Watch how easy Lauren does this exercise, and then you try it.
Do as many QRBs as you can.
This is another exercise that you can do in the living room during TV commercial breaks.
So how did the QRBs go? Could you get your knees off the floor and put your ass on your heels?
If not keep working on them.
After a couple of weeks, you should be able to touch your toes.
If not, measure how close your fingers are from your toes now and compare that to the baseline measurement.
You should see some progress if you are doing these exercises frequently.
If you are still not making progress after 2 or 3 weeks drop me an email or leave a comment below, and we will get to the bottom of it for you.
If you are interested in having a Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) Certified Professional take you through a physical screening to see what other physical limitations you may have, visit my Screening Page and we will hook you up.